Florida v South Carolina

Predictions 101 — Week 8

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We had an intriguing mixed bag last week, going 4-3 straight and 4-2-1 versus “the number.”

P101 desperately needs to stop backing Mack Brown in the Red River Shootout. But we nearly pegged “USC” at LSU on the dot. And it’s too bad we didn’t sub our Oregon State over BYU winner in for what seems to be a weekly miss with the Upset Special.

Oh well, on to this week’s selections.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Oct. 18, thru Sat., Oct. 20)

1) No. 9 South Carolina at No. 3 Florida
Sat., Oct. 20 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

We love this sort of old school showdown. Run the ball. Play defense. Games that are decided in the trenches warm our hearts.

The Gator ground game pounded out 326 rushing yards at Vanderbilt last week with quarterback Jeff Driskel accounting for 177 of them. Florida, of course, won’t enjoy that kind of freedom against South Carolina’s defense.

The Gamecocks rank fifth in the country in scoring defense (12.29 points allowed per game) and 12th in total defense (296.29 yards).

Florida has a wicked stop unit of its own that’s statistically a mirror image of South Carolina, ranking just one step below in each category — sixth in scoring (12.33) and 13th in total defense (297.17).

If the Gamecocks are going to win this one on the road and claim their first three-game winning streak over the Gators, they’ll have to start quickly.

Florida has been particularly dominant in second halves this season, outscoring foes, 98-23. Furthermore, the Gators have allowed just one touchdown and a field goal in the fourth quarter this year.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the stats, but the Florida offensive line was banged up last week. Three starters are expected to return to the lineup for South Carolina’s visit. Having all hands on deck will be a great benefit to Gator offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who lines up with seven offensive linemen at times.

That sort of variety and show of strength will serve Florida well in its attempt to neutralize South Carolina’s elite front seven, which is based on quickness and anchored by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

In these types of games, field position on the gridiron makes all the difference. That leads us to punting, yes punting. The Gators rank fourth in the nation in net punting. The Gamecocks are 104th.

Opening point spread: Florida by 3 1/2

The pick: Florida 23-17

2) No. 4 Kansas State at No. 17 West Virginia
Sat., Oct. 20 — 7 p.m. ET, FOX

This is a tough one to call. If fists were able to be thrown during a conference call, they would have been flying between P101 pugilists/predictors.

As always, it doesn’t really matter what we argue about. In this case, it depends on which Mountaineer team shows up. Since the game is being contested in Morgantown, we’d be very surprised if Dana Holgorsen’s crew laid an egg that resembled last Saturday’s 49-14 loss at Texas Tech.

But at the same time, the two metrics we trust the most – running the football with a physical mindset and playing tough brand of disruptive defense – do not favor West Virginia in this matchup.

Wildcat quarterback Collin Klein is a warrior and a winner. In concert with running back John Hubert, the dual-threat triggerman directs a vicious option attack.

Although the Mountaineer defense ranks 109th in scoring defense (37.3 points allowed per game) and 114th in total defense (496 yards), it has the ability to load up against the run, but Klein can hurt you with his arm, even though he won’t ever look pretty doing it.

Of course, West Virginia’s game is much more about outscoring you than stopping you. That’s all fine and dandy, until you get exposed.

The Mountaineers will have to figure out how to solve the kind of defense that Texas Tech successfully threw at them – a variety of zone coverages behind a three or four-man rush – for the rest of the season. Those non-blitz rushes were able to disrupt Geno Smith’s rhythm and the disciplined coverage schemes limited the all-important yards-after-catch.

If Mountaineer wideouts Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey can’t wiggle through enough seams within the semi-slow Wildcat secondary, Kansas State could be on it way. Bill Snynder’s only two remaining road games are at TCU and Baylor.

Opening point spread: West Virginia by 4 1/2

The pick: Kansas State 37-35

3) No. 6 LSU at No. 20 Texas A&M
Sat., Oct. 20 — Noon ET, ESPN

After opening the season with a 20-17 loss to Florida, the Aggies have reeled off five consecutive wins, scoring at least 48 points in four of those victories.

The dynamic offense triggered by ultra-athletic quarterback Johnny Manziel has been nothing but impressive. Kudos to Kevin Sumlin to getting the A&M attack ramped up so quickly.

It’s on the other side of the football that the Aggies have their concerns. Last Saturday, they surrendered 615 yards of total offense in a 59-57 close shave at Louisiana Tech.

With the LSU offense sputtering, especially in the red zone, this trip to Kyle Field might be just the right tonic for Les Miles and his struggling quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

Opening point spread: LSU by 3

The pick: LSU 28-23

4) No. 18 Texas Tech at TCU
Sat., Oct. 20 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

Fresh off their impressive 49-14 destruction of then-No. 5 West Virginia, the Red Raiders should be on red alert.

Last October, they had a similar experience, beating then-No. 3 Oklahoma to snap the Sooners’ 39-game home winning streak. The problem was that they followed up with a 41-7 loss at home to Iowa State, which was the first of five consecutive defeats that sank a 5-7 season.

Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege, who out Geno Smithed Geno Smith in the win over the cocky Mountaineers (32-of-42 for 499 yards and six touchdowns), will have his hands full with TCU in Fort Worth.

The Horned Frog defense leads the country with 14 interceptions and ranks within the top three in the Big 12 in total defense, pass defense and passing efficiency defense. That’s fairly impressive for a unit that had to replace more than half of its starters from last year. However, guess who tops the conference rankings in all three of those categories?

Yup, the Red Raiders, who yield only 143.7 yards through the air per game (fourth in the nation). New defensive coordinator Art Kaufman shouldn’t have to buy any meals in Lubbock.

Opening point spread: TCU by 3 1/2

The pick: Texas Tech 30-23

5) No. 2 Oregon at Arizona State
Thur., Oct. 18 — 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai‘i.

The Sun Devil defense ranks within the nation’s top 10 in almost every defensive category, but those stats lie. The FBS teams that Arizona State has faced currently rank 114th, 111th, 105th, 103rd and 56th in total offense. Weakling California is that lone non-triple-digit winner of that lowly crew that’s a combined 11-22.

The Ducks, on the other hand, rank eighth in total offense, fourth in rushing and second in scoring.

That being said, everyone talks about Oregon’s high-powered offense. However, the catalyst for this year’s team is the return of the “Gang Green” defense, which has come up with four pick-six scores in the last three games.

ASU isn’t without weapons and does feature the most efficient quarterback in the Pac-12 (third nationally). Sophomore Taylor Kelly has been magnificent, but remains largely untested. Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State and USC will take care of that in the next four weeks.

Put a fork in the Sun Devils. They’re done. With the ridiculous speed Oregon has on both sides of the ball, ASU will be happy to know that it isn’t scheduled to play the Ducks next season.

Opening point spread: Oregon by 12

The pick: Oregon 48-24

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

No. 21 Cincinnati at Toledo
Sat., Oct. 20 — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Once again, the USOTW prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif.

Having disposed of the not-so-vaunted gauntlet of three directional schools from Michigan (Western, Central and Eastern), scoring 139 points in the process, Toledo is geared up for its biggest game of the season.

After beginning his first season at the helm of the Rockets with an overtime loss at Arizona, head coach Matt Campbell has won six straight, propelled by a juggernaut offense featuring a trio of junior playmakers – quarterback Terrance Owens, running back David Fluellen and wideout Bernard Reedy.

They’re well suited to attack a Bearcat defense that allows more than 250 passing yards per game. But the Toledo attack can’t abandon the run if it hopes to keep its banged-up defense off the field. Decimated by injuries along the defensive line, the Rockets will be tested by Cincinnati’s offensive firepower that has scored 101 points in the past two weeks.

With a full slate of Big East action on the horizon, the Bearcats, who are playing their first true road game of the season, won’t be nearly as amped as their MAC hosts, who boast a 4-1 record at the Glass Bowl against ranked opponents.

Opening point spread: Cincinnati by 5

The pick: Toledo 35-32

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 12 Florida State at Miami
Sat., Oct. 20 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

This rivalry used to be at the top of the pile. Now, not so much.

Michigan State at Michigan or Stanford at California could have worked its way into this spot, but the Brent & Herbie factor was used as the three-way tiebreaker.

Oddly enough, the Hurricanes haven’t won a home game versus the Seminoles since 2004, and they added the pressure of “homecoming” to this game.

The handicapping here is simple really. Since Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher arrived in Tallahassee in 2007, as offensive coordinator, the Seminoles are 20-1 when they rush for 200 or more yards.

Count on that happening. Only two teams in the country (Tulane [1-5] and Eastern Michigan [0-6]) are worse at defending the run than the Hurricanes, who surrender 253.7 yards per game on the ground.

Bettors ought to beware, however. Only one of the last 10 meetings in this series has been decided by more than eight points.

Opening point spread: Florida by 17 1/2

The pick: Florida State 34-20

Ex-Ohio State lineman to continue career at Cincinnati

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 13:  Fans of the Cincinnati Bearcats cheer on their team at the start of the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Nippert Stadium on November 13, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Less than two weeks after leaving Ohio State, Grant Schmidt has a new college football home — and he won’t even have to leave the state to get there.

Citing university sources, the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that Schmidt will continue his collegiate playing career at Cincinnati.  The offensive lineman had indicated earlier this month that the Bearcats would be his landing spot.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Schmidt will be forced to sit out the 2016 season.  He would then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

A three-star member of OSU’s 2015 recruiting class, 247Sports.com rated Schmidt as the No. 52 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 1 player at any position in the state of South Dakota.  Schmidt was the first player from that state to sign with the Buckeyes, but he failed to become the first to play in a game as he didn’t see the field during his brief stint in Columbus.

Schmidt’s mid-May move was believed to be related to a logjam along the offensive line and his failure to make a dent on the depth chart during spring practice.

Josh Rosen, on UCLA’s $280 million deal: ‘we’re still amateurs though … gotta love non-profits’

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Josh Rosen #3 of the UCLA Bruins runs back to the bench after he threw a touchdown pass to Kenneth Walker III against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi's Stadium on December 26, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Here’s to guessing that, right or wrong, Jim Mora won’t be pleased with his young quarterback’s latest social media foray.

Late last week, the UCLA head coach used the public airwaves to help “guide” Josh Rosen down the straight and narrow.  Specifically, in regards to the Freshman All-American infamous “f**k Trump” cap flap this offseason, Mora stated that the rising sophomore was “heading towards Johnny Manziel” territory with stunts like that.

Hyperbole?  Yes.  But Rosen is seemingly hellbent on giving Mora further reason to continue down his odd “Money Manziel” path.

Shortly after it was reported that UCLA was set to sign a record-breaking $280 million apparel deal with Under Armour, Rosen took to social media to offer up some snark on the financial windfall that will line the pockets of the athletic department — and which the student-athletes won’t get a sniff.

We’re still amateurs though … Gotta love non-profits #NCAA

A photo posted by Josh Rosen (@josh3rosen) on May 24, 2016 at 8:53am PDT

(The tweet above was retweeted on Rosen’s personal Twitter account)

Coming from a kid who had a hot tub in his dorm his freshman season and whose parents graduated from Ivy League schools — one’s a surgeon — it might not be the actual money but the principle that has Rosen feeling feisty.  Whether his head coach gets just as feisty on his own JFF moral high ground in return remains to be seen.

UCLA set to announce record-setting deal with Under Armour

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In July of last year, Michigan’s reported apparel deal with Nike set a then-record of $169 million over 15 years (the final figure came in at just shy of $174 million).

Four months after UM’s new deal was reported, news surfaced that Texas’ new contract with Nike would be worth $250 million over 15 years.  In January of this year, Ohio State announced its new deal with Nike, an agreement that will pay that school upwards of $252 million over 15 years.  Four months later?  There’s a new unofficial record-holder.

According to ESPN.com‘s Darren Rovell, “Under Armour and UCLA will announce a 15-year schoolwide shoe and apparel deal worth $280 million” later Tuesday.  Scout.com is also reporting the same financial parameters of an agreement between the two entities.

From the latter’s report:

UCLA’s agreement with Under Armour, too, will be unique in the details, providing UCLA a vast amount of benefits that are reportedly unequaled in other apparel agreements. For one, we’ve learned that the money is guaranteed, and doesn’t include royalties, which is a significant difference.

UCLA’s athletic program’s have been aligned with adidas since 1999.  A press conference to announce the switch to Under Armour is set for 3 p.m. ET.

OL Tyler Grimsley opts to transfer from Miami

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 15: The Miami Hurricanes mascot, Sebastian the Ibis leads the players onto the field for their game against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on September 15, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Hurricanes defeated the Wildcats 38-10. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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The Miami Hurricanes had two late additions to its 2014 recruiting class: Joe Brown and Tyler Grimsley.

In January, Brown opted to transfer from the Hurricanes.  Four months later?  Lather, rinse, repeat for Grimsley.

In a press release, the Hurricanes announced that Grimsley has opted to transfer out of first-year head coach Mark Richt‘s football program.  No reason was given for the offensive lineman’s decision to move on to another, unspecified program.

“Tyler has decided to transfer away from our football program in the hopes of gaining more playing time,” Richt said in a statement. “I certainly respect his decision and I wish him nothing but the best in his future college football career.”

Grimsley took a redshirt as a true freshman.  The following season, the school described the lineman as a key member of the team’s practice squad in 2015.